Sabrina’s Window by Al Riske

Joshua breaks Sabrina’s window at the novel’s opening. As recompense, Sabrina asks him to do odd jobs around her house. A friendship of sorts develops between them, a complicated interplay of sexual tension and mother-son-like interactions as 17-year old Joshua looks to thirty-something Sabrina for advice on women and dating and simultaneously, almost reluctantly, fantasizes about her. Sabrina is exactly the kind of self-possessed, mature, sexy woman a young man craves (for a variety of reasons) as he navigates the treacherous vagaries of teenage girls. Conversely, Joshua is just the sort of blank slate an older woman must interact with cautiously. As each of them explores a succession of partners, their inexplicable friendship carries them through. Sabrina is torn between a kind and generous man and her free-wheeling, cheating ex—deluding herself that her pursuit of passion could ultimately lead to happiness. Joshua’s dilemma lies between his first serious girlfriend who wants to see other people and the tomboyish fellow reporter who makes her interest in him very clear. Although Sabrina provides only limited but useful dating advice and Joshua seems to pay off his window-breaking debt with constant chores, the two lean on each other despite rumors and friends scandalized by their relationship. Riske writes of a New Mexico that feels both familiar and foreign—the flavors and the landscape provide a rich and exotic backdrop to the story. His nuanced, subtle novel has much to share about relationships and art and the power and strength of friendships throughout our lives.

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